FP101- Dubious Ink Labels

When it comes to choosing a fountain pen ink, it’s natural to look to the label that’s on the box or the bottle as an indicator for what’s inside. But wait! You can’t always trust those labels, at least not completely. From my experience of seeing hundreds of bottles of ink with labels on the outside, I can definitely say the colors used for labels are representative at best, and can rarely portray the true color of the ink inside.

Ink box colors vary even within themselves, apart from the ink.

The colors on the labels on boxes and bottles are representative, not exact.

Why aren’t the labels reliable? A few reasons, but mainly it’s that trying to maintain true color accuracy for the ink boxes and labels is time consuming and expensive. It’s assumed across the industry that the colors are representative, and not intended to be exact to the ink inside. Most experienced ink buyers know this, but it can be disappointing when buying your first bottle of ink if you don’t realize this. But now you know, so it won’t happen to you šŸ˜‰

See the other Fountain Pen 101 videos here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

2017-10-11T13:45:50+00:00 August 3rd, 2012|Fountain Pen 101|8 Comments
  • David

    Gee, inconsistent colors on the boxes doesn't bode well for consistent colors inside the bottles. Are all the ink manufacturers like this? Are there some ink manufacturers that stand out when it comes inconsistent or erroneous box colors? Are there any that do proper color matching?

    If I were the manufacturer, on the box I'd put a swab of the actual ink that went into the bottle. You can't get more honest than that. But then again, maybe the swab would show how inconsistent the ink colors are across lots when you have many boxes stocked on the shelf. Hmmm…

    Thanks Brian, David

  • The boxes are completely independent of the ink inside. Making fountain pen ink is entirely different than printing on boxes. It's like I said in the video, it's not that a perfect match couldn't be made, it's that it would be very time consuming and expensive to try to get an exact match, which would needlessly raise the cost of the ink. Some manufacturers are better than others, but all of them are off enough where I wouldn't say you should rely solely on the box or ink label to determine the color that the ink will appear in your pen.

    There is one manufacturer that puts a swab on their bottle/box, Stipula. But, they're a very expensive ink, and the swab is actually less accurate than most of the printed swatches! I can look at 5 different Stipula bottles and see 5 different swabs on the outside of the bottle, and I think a lot of it has to do with the paper that's used for the label they put on the bottle, it doesn't absorb the same as writing paper does and it makes the ink look completely different. Their ink is consistent in the bottles, it's just the swabs look different.

  • Dennis Meade

    You can't always trust the label on a bottle of ink either. I recently received what I thought was a bottle of J. Herbin's Bouton D'or (yellow). that I had ordered.The label said Bouton D'or , but inside the box was a bottle of Orange Indien and the color on the top of the box was a very definite orange. How this happened I can't imagine.

    Drew, a staff member at Goulet Pen Co., sent a replacement out with a return mailing label immediately after I sent a message about the problem

  • Well, that was an unusual circumstance, the first time we've actually ever seen that from J. Herbin! Obviously, if the wrong ink is in the bottle, it won't match the label! But we made it right, just as any retailer should. We let Exaclair (the Herbin distributor) know about it too, it appeared to just be a fluke.

  • Emy

    Also don't forget that although the ink might be light-resistant, the printing on the box might not be. If you're in a physical store, and the box was on display a while, the color may have faded as a result.

  • Most fountain pen inks aren't light resistant, and neither are the boxes they come in. I imagine the boxes would have to be sitting on a store shelf in direct sunlight for some time before fading, but it could definitely happen. It's actually amazing how damaging UV light is!

  • balson

    do you have any recommendations for inks that are lightfast?

  • balson

    do you have any recommendations for inks that are lightfast?